How to safeguard your company from influencer fraud

The rise of follower fraud -- paying for fake social media followers -= makes campaign management difficult for enterprises. Now, new insights help the industry to tackle this growing problem.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor on

Social media fraud is widespread and prevalent.

Automated bot accounts, run by software instead of people, manipulate follower and engagement counts. Bots automatically retweet posts made by users who have paid for services. Click farms pay people to manually click on customer links, boosting traffic numbers. Marketers must check the integrity of each influencer's audience before committing hard cash.

Culver City, Calif.-based CreatorIQ teamed up with Fullscreen to avoid follower fraud. Its Fighting Follower Fraud white paper shows which areas of the world are hotspots for follower farms, spikes to look out for, and how growth rates should be checked for authenticity.

Also: ShareIQ launches feature to help brands visualise influencer value

Brands have tried to combat the problem of follower fraud by checking influencer followers, likes, and engagement rates. They issue documents asking creators are asked to affirm that they have not paid for fake subscribers or bots.

But these metrics can be manipulated, creators might lie about buying followers, and even verified accounts can purchase follower and engagement services.

By checking three metrics -- follower growth, audience location, and engagement rate -- the tool can show how quickly an influencer's followers have grown and whether the growth was normal for the platform.

It can also show where the influencer's audience is based, and identify anomalous spikes. Expected engagement rates for the network can also be measured. Obtaining a breakdown of the audience and what it should look like can highlight fake follower fraud or patterns of purchasing followers.

The audience report flags influencers when they have a country in their audience that deviates by more than over 50 percent from the average for an influencer in their home country.

A content creator, based in the US, is expected to have 60 percent of their audience from the US, 6 percent from the UK, 4 percent from Canada, and one percent from Australia.

Influencers who have a large following in a country with which they have little association will be flagged by the tool for further investigation in case the followers are generated by follower farms.

Brazil is one of the primary global hotspots for follower farms. Most US-based influencers have an average of 1.6 percent of their audience who live in Brazil.

Content creators who purchased fake followers have 3.6 percent of followers who live in Brazil -- more than double the norm.

Also: Who should brands partner with: Celebrity influencers or everyday influentials?

Despite fake follower accounts, designed to push up sponsorship rates, brands rush to recruit influencers with over 10,000 followers.

To safeguard your organisation from follower fraud, make sure you use a tool that can perform in-depth analysis of your influencers and their audience.

Make sure you know exactly who is sharing content, how, and why content it is being shared, to get a true measure of value for your influencer marketing budget. Use an AI-powered tool to check influencer's Instagram accounts for fake followers and likes.

Keeping on top of your influencer data will save you cash in the short term -- and it could improve your brands reputation in the long term. It could be well worth the investment to eliminate fakes from your campaigns

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